My home office perks equal, if not rival, what employees at Fortune 500 companies enjoy. I have unlimited access to outdoor green space (with Wi-Fi) when I want to boost creativity, a 24/7 kitchen stocked with endless snacks (including wine) and approval to wear yoga pants and slippers to work daily. And, let’s not forget the flexible schedule. I focus on project completion, not the clock.
Being self-employed and working from home is awesome, but unfortunately, I’ve battled my fair share of home office health hazards. A few concerns sneak up on you when you spend a little too much time with your nose in business. From head-to-toe, my self-imposed hours at my desk have turned into some annoying issues. Here’s how I’m fighting back and staying healthy.
Reducing Eye Strain
I’m a writer. I alternate between staring at a computer monitor and staring at a smartphone for hours upon hours each day to complete my assignments and grow my business. Screens are necessities of my job. But, a few years ago, I noticed that I was having lingering afternoon headaches. When they progressed into migraines, I knew I had to make a change.
For my birthday, my husband surprised me with magic writing goggles. Well, they’re actually just gaming glasses designed to reduce eyestrain for people who look at computers and television screens for long periods of time. The non-prescription glasses, combined with screen breaks sprinkled throughout the day, has made a world of difference in my health.
Dealing with Mouse Elbow
After getting my headaches under control, a new issue popped up…or, swelled up. I currently have a pinched ulnar nerve that runs from my elbow to my fingertips in my right arm. When my arm is bent in the ready-to-type position, I feel a shooting pain. Mouse elbow isn’t uncommon among those of us who sit at a desk and type for long periods of time.
After applying ice, heat and creams, I’m still experiencing pain. I took some time off work to let it heal, but my arm is perpetually weak. So, instead, I’m learning to control the computer mouse with my left hand to give my right side a break. Yes, it’s as awkward as it sounds. I also bought a new office chair to ensure proper ergonomics at my desk and I’m forcing myself to take breaks more often. Extra yoga classes and a massage are on the schedule for next week.
Fighting Weight Gain
Finally, I think every desk job worker battles weight gain. It’s easy to stay stationary, munch on snacks and get absorbed in your work and forget that your body really needs several breaks that include movement throughout the day.
I’m fighting an expanding waistline and weakening muscles by scheduling more gym trips and dog walks into my weeks. These plans get me out of the house to socialize, strengthen my muscles — and, I burn a few calories.
I’ve also started doing some exercises while seated. There are many times when I’m reading or listening and don’t need to actively have my hands on the keyboard. So, I do arm circles and lift light weights. I might look goofy, but my canine co-workers don’t mind.
Your health is your key business asset. Brainstorm what you can do to keep your body in better shape so you can avoid home office health hazards and grow your business without a headache, swollen arm or extra weight gain to slow your progress.